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  • Writer's pictureWILLIAM HAZEL

Global Running Day - Or Just Running With Neighborhood Friends Day

Global Running Day felt like a neighborhood run and I'm glad. My wife and I joined a hundred or so runners for a rainy jaunt along our oceanfront's boardwalk. Organized by the Tidewater Striders nonprofit, we gathered at a local watering hole, Murphy's Irish Pub, historically supportive of anyone with running shoes in their wardrobe. There were no rules. We like no rules. We gathered, ran as far as wished, then gathered again in hopes of winning raffle prizes.

Like any hashtagged event, its history is short.

The day can be traced back to 2009, or to 2016, in its current form. Birthed from shrewd marketing professionals in New York City, the website still leads you back to the famous NYRR, (New York Road Runners.) The success of the first year encouraged the International Association of Athletics, now called World Athletics, to endorse the concept the following year.

It all meant nothing to us, of course, we just wanted to get out to see our friends again.

Recently vaxxed and at last relaxed about the pandemic's numbers, it was pure joy to see so many unmasked, sweaty, smiling faces on the run again. The wet stuff held off just long enough for us to run a 5K distance together. The oceanfront always has a more intense damp to the air, but at least the sea offered a cooling breeze on the southbound leg. We had the boardwalk almost to ourselves, with the strip having that post Memorial Day Weekend abandoned feel.

We didn't win any raffle prizes. My wife was less disappointed than I. I was hoping for the guaranteed entry for the Seashore 50K in December. That was a gem in the hat for sure. We missed out on some other race entries, too, as they had a nice selection of winnings to wrap up the event. There was a pretty intense grab and go afterwards of low-cost stuff in a tub that never made it to the block. My wife thought about diving in, but with several zealots already head and shoulders in, her urge didn't last long. We did get free shirts, though. Well, Mindy got a free shirt. I passed. The Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon brand did a logo drop on the event, and offered unclaimed shirts from the canceled, turned virtual 2020 race. We ran the event in 2018 and weren't impressed. My better half likes free shirts, though, so it's all good. And seeing folding tables covered in rummaged through retail was a fun reminder that group runs are back. And the delicious wings from Murphy's, we got those too. And there may have been Guinness involved. And it's possible it was served in a happy holidays’ pint glass, replete with the famous toucan in a Santa hat.

Murphy's was busy with non-runners as well, but we took over their parking lot tent anyway to escape the harder rain that began to fall. I had forgotten the kind of stench a bunch of just ran some miles on a muggy eve runners could make, especially when you stuff us all in small tent. We grabbed our wings at the outdoor bar and can confirm our funk permeated the entire space. Yes, it's damn good to be in crowds of runners again.

The Global Running Day social media frenzy looked on my feed, about the same as any other day. Most runners seemed to be out by themselves or with friends. Like the day before, and the day before that, there were lots of selfies. One this June day, though, the hashtag said Global Running Day. And so, it was.

I'm deeply grateful it never felt global on our end.

We were all neighbors running together. But it was connective how we could open our phones and see runners from around the world running with their neighbors. We should all run together more often. It doesn't matter if it's a mile or a marathon, when we are running together, we are connected. Connected on a sweet, simple level of humanity based on movement and fun. I'm not sure what the next hashtag day will be called, but I don't care. Being connected again after all these isolated months is more than enough.

And if we win a raffle prize next time, that will be great, too...

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